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The Orion

Musicians crank up the volume at ‘Chico Unplugged’

Photo of Chico Unplugged winners (from left to right: Bradley Relt, Jared Kreuzberger, Thom Lacalle) Photo credit: Caitlyn Young

On Thursday, Chico’s popular Madison Bear Garden hosted the singer/songwriter competition, “Chico Unplugged.” The School of the Arts Production (SOTA) first launched Chico Unplugged in 2012 as a way for up-and-coming artists to showcase their talent to the community.

During the show, 10 musical acts went up the stage and performed a series of songs for the audience. Most of the music genres consisted of alternative, acoustic and indie rock. It was a night full of great vibes, energy and music for everyone to enjoy. After all the singers performed, the judges picked three lucky contestants. Thom Lacalle, Jared Kreuzberger and Bradley Relt were the winners of the night. In addition to winning the contest, they will also get the chance to record a session at Chico State’s recording studio for free.

“This is my first time performing for ‘Chico Unplugged’ and I’m actually pleasantly surprised that I won,” Lacalle said. “My grandma taught me how to play the guitar and everything I know about music, so that’s kinda where I got my inspiration from.”

Lacalle is a recent transfer student from Elk Grove and plans to do more performances and shows in Chico.

Jared Kreuzberger was also ecstatic about winning the contest.

“This is my first time ever performing solo without a band, so to win is insane,” Kreuzberger said. “This is definitely making me want to perform at more local shows, open mics and even the Thursday farmers market night.”

He added that singing is his passion and one day wants to become a recording artist.

“Music is my life and it’s something I want to do full-time as a career, so I hope I’ll make it one day,” he said.

SOTA Productions hopes to have more “Chico Unplugged” nights. Many of the past winners since 2012 have gone on to do many things pertaining to the Chico music scene. Some of the artists had the chance to perform at major events such as “Chicoachella,” “I Hate Radio Festival,” Thursday Night Market, “Chico Breaks the Record” and many more.

SOTA has done a great job at encouraging artists to sign up for “Chico Unplugged” and keeping the movement alive. The rules of Chico Unplugged include singing original songs and using all acoustic instruments, hence the name “unplugged.” This allows for artists to perform authentically and creatively as possible. The lack of electric devices and instruments makes it more enjoyable for the audience to enjoy the actual performance without any enhancements.

As the night went on, more and more people showed up in the audience. It was a full house upstairs at the Bear and everyone vibed along to the music. After the winners were announced, people stuck around to mingle with each other, enjoy a drink or food and hang out with some of the performers. SOTA Productions plans to host “Chico Unplugged” again next Thursday. Anyone who’s willing to strut their stuff and display talent to the Chico scene is welcome to sign up at the Bear.

Niyat Teferi can be reached at [email protected] or @tayintee on Twitter.

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